Branding & Web
coding schema markup

Schema Markup: An introduction

Schema markup is still a crucial component of modern SEO in 2023. At a basic level, Schema provides search engines with additional information about your website, which can help them better understand the content and structure of your pages. This information can help to improve your website’s search engine rankings, making it more visible to potential visitors via Google’s rich snippets.

You may have also heard the term ‘structured data’; whilst Schema is the language that you write structured data in, structured data is the actual data you provide in this language.

Why use Schema Markup?

Here are a few key reasons to implement Schema:

  • Accessibility: It makes your content more accessible if you have a large website with a large volume of pages or target a specific niche audience.
  • It can improve rankings: When search engines can understand the content and structure of your website more effectively, they can present it to users in a higher position or as rich snippets, featured snippets or position zero results.
  • It can increase click-through rates: When your website appears in search engine results pages, how it’s presented can make a big difference to whether people click through to your site. By including schema markup, you can make your listings more attractive and informative, encouraging more people to click through and visit your website.

How can you make the most of schema markup on your website? Here are a few tips:

  • Use a free generator: Many online tools can help you generate schema markup for your website without needing any technical knowledge, such as These can be a great way to get started and ensure you provide the correct information to search engines.
  • Focus on the critical pages of your website: While you can use Schema markup on any page of your website, it’s imperative to focus on the most important pages to your users. These might include your homepage, product pages, or how-to pages.
  • Be consistent: Consistency is essential, use the same schema markup types on all your relevant pages and ensure that you provide accurate and up-to-date information.
  • Test and refine: As with any aspect of SEO, it’s necessary to test and refine your schema markup over time. This process can help you to identify any issues or areas for improvement and to ensure that you’re providing the best possible information to search engines and users alike.

Schema markup is a powerful tool for improving your website’s SEO and user experience. By taking the time to implement schema markup on your website, you can help to ensure that your content is more easily found and accessed by your target audience and that your website is presented in the best possible way to search engine users.

Drop us a line if you want to learn more about Schema or how to implement it on your website.

Stocks on phone

Is your brand ready for recession?

This week saw confirmation that the UK is in recession, which is expected to be protracted. Coming hot on the heels of the pandemic, it can feel like the hurdles are unending, but now is the time for action and to use your brand’s assets and resources to the best effect.

Every situation will be unique, but here are a few pointers to help set a course through the stormy waters.

Maintain a long-term focus

First, a potential positive; if you can maintain your presence, have clear, focused messaging and be responsive to your customer needs, research repeatedly shows that you will gain on competing brands during a recession. You also can get more for your marketing spend because of the effect of competitors reducing their budgets.

It may take some realignment or refinement to remain relevant, but keeping a longer-term view will see you emerge stronger amongst the knee-jerk changes of direction and slashed marketing budgets.

Understand your customers

Before you do anything, understand your customers and any changing needs. If you grasp their challenges and the opportunities to address them, the more you have the potential to respond effectively and continue to do business with them.

Before you do anything, understand your customers and any changing needs.

Meeting customers’ requirements might require creativity when reconfiguring products and services to ease budget pressures or spending commitments. You may also need to focus your marketing efforts on core or necessity offerings.

Sharpen up your message and identity

To battle through the competitive landscape, you need to ensure that your messaging is crystal clear and that customers understand two things:

  • Everything that you can offer them – a surprisingly common situation, especially with B2B brands, is that customers will engage with your brand for a small percentage of what you offer and maybe need to learn the full extent of what you can provide.
  • Why they should buy from you, be consistent and persistent.

Again, consistency is critical when it comes to your brand identity, but importantly, this shouldn’t choke creativity. Just because everything looks the same doesn’t necessarily make it engaging or the best way to present your brand.

This may involve rebranding, it may involve repositioning your brand or it maybe just a case of some subtle tweaks to improve the clarity of your message.

Drop us a line if you want to chat about how to make sure your brand thrives over the coming turbulence.

Lincs Van Hire

New website for Lincs Van Hire

POP has started working with Lincs Van Hire to design and build their new website, which we will also be integrating with their new back-office systems in a significant modernisation process for the firm.

Lincs Van Hire has been operating in the county for the last 15 years, providing a wide range of vehicles from cars, vans and tippers, to specialist vehicles, such as chiller vans, on short-term hire and longer-term arrangements.

We will design and create a bespoke WordPress website with a custom integration into the new management systems.

If you want to discuss how your website could be working harder for your business, or want to talk about technical auditing, maintenance or design services, either drop us a line or contact us via the form!


New Camloc multisite

Demonstrating our in-house technical capabilities, we have successfully planned, designed and delivered the new international multi-site network for the industrial springs, struts and dampers manufacturer, Camloc.

Camloc website

The new website is a WordPress multi-site, meaning that each of the nine global territories is an entity of its own. That means they can be structured and populated uniquely to suit the marketplace; however, they are all managed through one CMS control panel, making it highly efficient.

Previously the company’s website was built using a page builder which was very limiting, so we replaced it with a bespoke site and WordPress theme build.

The new website contains a remodeled and improved Help Centre, a library of downloadable product drawing files and has structured around detailed SEO research.

Visit the new website

Our first climate-positive year

September 2022 marks our first 12 months as a climate-positive agency, using Ecologi to offset our professional and personal impact through tree planting and investment in climate-positive projects.

In our first year, we have funded planting 488 trees in the UK and worldwide. We have also helped fund projects such as creating solar farms, using biomass to produce electricity and preventing deforestation.

Our carbon-reduction activity amounts to a carbon reduction of 32 tonnes, equivalent to 80,000 miles driven in a car or 25 long-haul flights.

Visit our profile to learn more.

On top of this, we also provide UK-based zero-carbon hosting; datacentres are also big carbon producers, and we have our studio in a high-tech, eco-friendly building packed with features such as:

  • Ground source heat pumps
  • Solar water heating
  • Natural air ventilation with PV-driven fans
  • Super insulation
  • Sun pipes to maximise natural daylight
  • Low energy, automatically activated lighting

Ecologi is a B-Corporation certified provider of carbon offsetting that we chose because of their transparency and easy access to evidence of the work taking place. Plus, the excellent dashboard and mapping of projects so that you can see precisely where your trees and projects are via Google Maps and what3words.

Visit their collective action tracker

Starbucks branch by Taylor Lindsey

New websites for Taylor Lindsey

Regional commercial and residential property developer Taylor Lindsey has chosen POP to redesign and redevelop their websites.

The Lincoln-based firm has been in the area since 1945 and has created some of the region’s most prominent commercial spaces, such as Teal Park, Roman Gate and Brunel Park, attracting world-class brands like Starbucks and Siemens.

The Lincoln-based firm has been in the area since 1945

Taylor Lindsey currently has three websites. We will be working to assess and create a new architecture for the company’s online presence that streamlines and makes this more efficient for managing content and creating a much higher quality expression of the brand.

Think Tank

POP’s on the move to Think Tank

We’re busy preparing to move to our new home in the Think Tank at the beginning of July 2022. Marks Barfield Architects, creators of the London Eye, designed The Think Tank, which opened in 2008. The building has various eco-friendly features, including larch panel shading on the windows for temperature control and ground source heat pumps.

Our contact details will remain the same, and you can get in touch with us as you usually do throughout the move.

Photo by and courtesy of the boys in the egg box:

POP is shopify partner

POP becomes Shopify Partner

Having worked with and created Shopify websites for a few years now, POP has become a Shopify Partner.

As Shopify state themselves:

Shopify is the leading all-in-one commerce platform for startups to high-growth businesses. Powering millions of businesses worldwide, Shopify gives independent brands the tools to sell online, in person, and everywhere in between. Whether it’s an online store designed for mobile, or a point of sale that syncs with retail, Shopify is where businesses start, scale, and never outgrow.”

…we can demonstrate our existing knowledge of Shopify custom theme and store building, coding in Liquid and integrating with the vast array of Apps and services.

Joining the Shopify Partner scheme will allow us to begin the assessment process to gain Shopify Expert status, where we can demonstrate our existing knowledge of Shopify custom theme and store building, coding in Liquid and integrating with the vast array of Apps and services.

Drop us a line if you would like to discuss creating a Shopify store or are looking for support or expansion of an existing store.

Bar Unico

New website and venue for Bar Unico

Bar Unico in Lincoln, run by mother and son Gio and Diane serves delicious, authentic Italian food, using fresh local produce and traditional Italian recipes that have been passed down through three generations.

Recently Bar Unico has expanded with a new venue in Horncastle and a gelato bike that was created in Sicily, so you can hire it for your weddings and parties and have beautiful Italian gelato, straight from the beautiful shores of Lake Como.

You can learn more about Bar Unico on their brand new website, as well as hiring the venues or the gelato bike for your event.

Shaun Fitzgerald - The Rebuilt Mind

Finding a job during the pandemic

Shaun began working for POP as a web developer in October 2020, approximately eight months after the ‘work at home’ directive during the Covid-19 pandemic. In this post, Shaun gives us his perspective on job-hunting and working as a profoundly deaf person during the pandemic.

The lockdown had a massive impact on me because people had to stay at home. To me, it felt similar to the experiences of people back during World War 2, where the government restricted people to where they could travel or go. People at that time were stuck at home with little to do, and I felt the same. Because I had no work, I decided to develop a website, which gave me something to do rather than sit around twiddling my thumbs.

I realised that if I didn’t do anything, it could affect my mental health. I realised that similarly, other people within the deaf community would also be feeling isolated and, in turn, could lead to issues with mental health and wellbeing. I always try to keep busy and did during the lockdown. I continued keeping fit, working on web development and having conversations with my friends. These were humorous as we pretended to have virtual parties and offer drinks to each other. 

Before lockdown, I had never heard of Covid-19 and didn’t understand what it was. I thought, “what the f*cking hell is this?”

Before lockdown, I had never heard of Covid-19 and didn’t understand what it was. I thought, “what the f*cking hell is this?” During 2020, there were many broadcasts by Boris Johnson and other ministers and scientific advisors on television offering updates. Unfortunately, there was never a BSL interpreter explaining to the deaf community what was happening in sign language. Scotland and Wales did provide interpreters for their briefings, and because in England, this never happened, it had a massive impact on access to information for the deaf community. 

Around May 2020, the government made it a rule that everyone had to wear masks when visiting shops or in enclosed public places. Mask wearing had an immediate effect on deaf people as we rely on lip patterns as well as sign language to communicate. Wearing masks made it impossible for deaf people to communicate as effectively. 

I created a picture on my phone, which worked via Google Translate Live. This image allowed the hearing person to speak to my phone, and then Google would translate it into English to enable me to communicate with them successfully. 

If I needed to communicate with a hearing person, I would type the words into my phone, and then the text would automatically convert to spoken words for them to hear.

During 2020, I had time to reflect on how the situation affected my mind. I knew that it was essential to have a positive mindset. I decided to write a book focussing on being positive, and I am halfway through the writing process. The book will be published and launched in 2022. 

Writing my book keeps my mind thinking all the time; sometimes, a thought pops into my head during the night – I wake up, turn the light on and reach for my notebook to write it down before going back to sleep.

Early in 2020, my previous employer furloughed me. In July, my boss asked me to attend a virtual meeting to explain that business wasn’t doing so well and that the work coming in had reduced dramatically. She said she would let me know how things were going in August. In October, I received an email telling me they had made me redundant, which was a very unpleasant shock.

I began looking for work and, to be honest, I didn’t hold much hope in finding a job, but I applied many times and received replies offering me job interviews starting the first week of October. After the interviews concluded, I had four job offers, all sent to me on the same day, including one from POP. I thought about which one to accept and decided to choose POP.

People, when looking for work, sometimes give up too easily. I feel it’s important never to give up; you should always try to work as hard as possible to achieve success, especially when it comes to finding employment. I am the type of person who strives to do my best and achieve the things I start. If you aspire to do your best, then this leads to a healthy, positive mindset.

Being deaf and having problems with accessibility to information can lead to becoming negative. It can be easier to be negative than to have a positive mindset, but if I remain optimistic and have a positive outlook on life, it is more beneficial to me as a deaf person.

Since starting work at POP, I have yet to meet the team in person because of the lockdown. We have Zoom meetings, and it’s great to see Nick and the team, but I look forward to getting to the office one day and meeting everyone face-to-face. 

In a ‘live’ environment, you can experience the office culture, banter, and other things that I enjoy in the workplace. You cannot do this on a virtual platform. I think that (because of the length of the lockdown) we should have a Christmas party in summer.

Working on a virtual platform, like Zoom, becomes very tiring. It can be challenging to process information as I rely on my interpreter’s accuracy, everything is two-dimensional, and some information might be missing. 

In a face-to-face situation like the office, you receive extra information through body language; deaf people need to pick up this additional information. On virtual platforms, it is impossible to pick up on more minor nuances. They are easier to pick up on in real life, and it is easier to pick up someone’s emotions if you face them rather than them being at the end of a webcam. 

There is a belief that hearing people think they share the same experiences as deaf people; this is not correct. Deaf peoples’ mental health issues are different from those of hearing people. This divide is especially relevant whilst the country has been in lockdown for such a long time. From the beginning of 2020 to the present day, we have not got back into the realms of reality. 

After the first lockdown, we still had restrictions in place, and then the government put the country into another lockdown. During this period, we have had severely restricted contact with family and friends. As a deaf person, I can’t just pick up a phone and ring family or friends, and gaining access to external communication has been difficult. The deaf community has struggled more than some other people, which has caused more negativity and challenges in everyday life.

Shaun Fitzgerald was born profoundly Deaf and throughout his life has had to face barriers to learning. He has created his own business and is employed as a Web Developer at POP. He has presented TEDx talks and provides talks to groups of people around the UK, looking at Mental Health and Deafness and within that area, Suicide awareness and prevention.

Shaun Fitzgerald

Sponsored Walk for Suicide Awareness

POP web developer Shaun, will be walking from Scunthorpe to Cleethorpes in aid of suicide awareness on 28th August 2021.

Where to and from?

We are walking to Cleethorpes from Scunthorpe on Saturday August 28th 2021.

We are starting from DoubleTree by Hilton Forest Pines Spa & Golf Resort in Scunthorpe and finishing on the Pier at Cleethorpes.


The overall distance will be 28 miles and we will be supported by one support vehicle throughout the route.

Start and finish time

Start at 7.00AM from DoubleTree by Hilton Forest Pines Spa & Golf Resort in Scunthorpe and finish at 3PM (approximately) on the Pier at Cleethorpes.

Who is involved?

Shaun Fitzgerald and John Smith who are both profoundly Deaf men are doing the walk together.

Bio of each walker

Shaun Fitzgerald was born profoundly Deaf and throughout his life has had to face barriers to learning. This resulted in feeling negative in general. He has created his own business and is employed as a Web Developer for POP Branding. He has presented TEDx talks and provides talks to groups of people around the UK, looking at Mental Health and Deafness and within that area, Suicide awareness and prevention. He is a strong advocate of having a positive sense of well being and having a positive mindset. Shaun is a regular campaigner for having a healthier mind and viewing life in a more beneficial way.

John Smith is profoundly Deaf and British Sign Language is his first language. He is a fully qualified Teacher and Assessor, he teaches British Sign Language Levels 1 – 6.

Why are you doing the walk?

The walk has been organised to address the issue of Suicide in young people. Sadly, suicide is far too prevalent in society and too many young and older people are taking their own lives when confronted with a crisis. I have had close friends and people I knew, who sadly took their own lives. I have had similar feelings in the past, through positive thinking, regular exercise, I managed to overcome those particular feelings and move on. The walk is in recognition of these events and we are doing this to make people more aware of the risk of suicide in people we know who are close to us.

Raising funds for who?

We are raising funds for two organisations. One For The Lads, and Deaf Minds Education, who create training courses for those who work within Mental Health and Education. The courses amongst others, look at Suicide Awareness and Prevention.

Sponsor opportunity: walk 1 mile with us…

You can have the opportunity to walk with us for a distance of 1 mile for a donation. What we need from you is to register an interest, offer a donation, and give us a reason why you want to be involved. We will then look through the list and invite people to attend. So, if you are feeling fit and want to walk with us then please contact us at

Local companies

We are looking for local companies and companies from afar to support us in any way that they can. We are looking for suitable walking footwear and refreshment items for example drinks containers, drinks, food etc. Any company that supports us will have their company name and details posted on various Social Media outlets.

We would welcome help and support from anyone who is happy to support a meaningful venture and your help will hopefully assist someone in need of help in the future. Too many people die from suicide each year and if we can prevent just one of those happening, then everything will have been worthwhile.

JustGiving link:

Contact details
Shaun Fitzgerald, email address:

Northcore Magento 2 e-commerce website

Experienced front-end web developer


We are looking for an additional front-end developer to join our small, friendly studio team. 

The role is ideal for someone that has gained several years’ commercial experience in a junior or middle-weight position and is looking for their next challenge or career step.

Necessary skills and competencies:

  • Two years’ commercial experience (we will consider less if the candidate can demonstrate that they have the right skills) 
  • Thorough working knowledge of Adobe Creative Cloud
  • Excellent knowledge of HTML and CSS
  • Good understanding of jQuery and JavaScript
  • Experience creating, managing and maintaining WordPress websites
  • Ability to turn Adobe XD designs into functional HTML and CSS web templates with attention to detail
  • Strong literacy and numeracy skills
  • Ability to use project management and communication platforms such as Basecamp and Slack


  • Experience of working with ExpressionEngine, Magento 2 and Laravel
  • Good understanding of PHP
  • Working knowledge of SASS
  • Experience of using Git for version control 
  • Experience with cPanel including the setting up of site accounts and email addresses

The person we choose will:

  • Be self-motivated, have initiative and able to manage their time effectively.
  • Be curious and a natural problem solver, but not afraid to ask for help.
  • Be able to work to deadlines and thrive on being busy.
  • Be a confident communicator and a team player.
  • Have thoughts and opinions – we want someone that contributes to the direction of our projects and our business.

Our clients range from local and regional brands to national and international names, together with white label projects and collaborative work. The strong relationships we build with clients and collaborators is central to how we work; the right candidate will be able to explain the complex processes and technologies involved in web projects in plain English. 

Our studio is in the centre of Lincoln and, though we will support you with flexible and home working, the candidate must be able to travel to the studio when necessary. The workplace has comprehensive Covid-19 safety measures in place. In exchange, we provide guarded city centre parking free of charge during the week and weekend.

The position comes with a competitive salary based on experience and 28 days paid leave per year, plus Bank Holidays and your birthday.

Please email your CV and portfolio to or call 01522 837 241 for a confidential chat about the role.

Bank Of England

POP wins Mitie GSO website

Facilities management and professional services giant Mitie have awarded the contract to develop its new Global Security Operations website to POP.

We will be working alongside Mitie internal teams to plan, map, design and develop the new website which will incorporate the company’s sophisticated security intelligence, consultancy and technology offerings, including its industry-leading Merlin software.

“Winning such a significant project in the height of the pandemic-related downturn is a massive boost and is testament to us continuing to deliver day-in-day-out to our clients since before lockdown.” — Nick Whyatt, MD

Mitie is the UK’s largest intelligence-led security operation with over 22,000 security officers employed, and 35,000 security systems maintained, clients include The Bank of England, Eurostar, IKEA and the Co-op.

Concerning the current Covid-19 pandemic, Mitie has developed pioneering products and services to help people and businesses return to work and public spaces. These include a range of thermal imaging technologies to detect people with elevated temperatures and a cleaning product, Citrox Protect, which is proven to combat Coronaviruses on surfaces for six months and is chemical-free, non-toxic and produced from all-natural materials.

Learn more about our website design and development services

Photo by Robert Bye on Unsplash

Internal communications - we will be back!

Internal communications now, adverts later

As marketing budgets get slashed, and brands struggle to make sense of their new reality, most with vastly reduced income and resources, marketers and agencies plead with them to not go silent, not least because their income rests on them generating work. One area of comms that definitely shouldn’t be silent though is internal communications.

“If there isn’t demand, then no amount of advertising can boost sales.” — Archie Norman, Chairman, M&S

Brands that continue to market aggressively in a recession usually are in a stronger position afterwards is the message, but this isn’t a typical recession. 

We all pray for the V-shaped post-lockdown economic revival, but there’s still much uncertainty about this happening amid the lay-offs, furloughing and hushed fears of a second wave.

A recession doesn’t usually come with entire sectors such as events and hospitality shuttering for months, or the restrictions on movement, face-to-face contact and reduced admission into physical locations. All of which further hobble business activity and recovery.

A typical recession also doesn’t come with the sheer amount of adaptation and diversification that the present crisis has demanded either. Many businesses have had to realise their formerly hazy, sometime-never flexible working plans almost overnight, and many non-digital brands have had to formulate a digital or distanced offering at a similar breakneck speed.

Even so, if demand for your brand’s offering is significantly down or restricted, perhaps to nearly (or even actually) zero, what do you do with the precious marketing resources you do have? 

There is a strong argument for significantly reappropriating marketing spend to internal communications instead of using it all to fruitlessly ‘keeping your name out there’ and seeing your budget evaporate.

As always, your staff are the living embodiment of your brand. The clarity in your internal communications, now and as people return to work, will have a massive impact on what shape your brand is in, and what your customer experience is like when demand returns.

What form these internal communications take will depend on the brand and how it has been affected by the crisis, but likely themes will include:

  • What measures are we taking to ensure your safety?
  • What measures are we taking to ensure business continuity?
  • Open and frank company-wide discussions and strategy sessions to allow people to share their experiences and thoughts from the last few months
  • A state of the nation summary – where are we? What did we learn? What positives can we keep long-term? What change is needed to get back on track? What is your role in this?
  • Why were you furloughed when others weren’t? How do we regain your confidence that you are still valued?
  • How can we reintroduce furloughed and non-furloughed staff into the same workplace frictionlessly?
  • Has your role or working arrangements changed permanently? Why was this necessary?

The temptation is to hold off until it feels like the crisis is over to do your meaningful internal communications; the stuff that’s bigger than Zoom quizzes and sweetie hampers, as a sort of collective sigh of relief. But embracing the challenge now, even if you don’t have all the answers, will help ensure your brand’s internal integrity is as healthy as possible when the phone starts ringing again.

For examples of our internal communications work see our projects for Interflora and Vera Wang.

Image courtesy of Jon Tyson

Co-branding interflora and co-op

Brand strategy: co-branding

Co-branding and brand partnerships, when done correctly, have the power to reinvigorate tired brands, open up new revenue streams and introduce brands to entirely new audiences.

By the same measure, co-branding exposes the participants to the risks associated with each brand’s actions and reputations; so the phrase “You’re known by the company you keep” is highly relevant.

Co-branding works best when the partners have a joint offering that benefits the customer and is, at least outwardly, seamless — one such example is the co-branding partnership between Apple and Nike. Based on the simple premise that people like to listen to music when working out, the Nike+iPod launched in 2006. 

…the phrase “You’re known by the company you keep” is highly relevant

Nike+ users could listen to music on their iPods or iPhones while working out and at the same time receive workout data such as distance, pace and calories burned using the technology contained in a small transmitter and the Apple devices.

This strong relationship has continued through the more recent advances in technology and changing product ranges and now includes a series of co-branded Apple Watches. The relationship between the two brands continues to widely expose both brands to each other’s incredibly loyal customers.

Other successful examples of co-branding that make immediate sense were projects we were involved in the creation of (see above image). The partnerships between Interfora and both The Co-operative Funeralcare and Vera Wang, for funeral flowers and wedding flowers respectively, helped to create a new dynamic to the product ranges.

Interflora bringing their credibility in floristry to the funeral care market lent the combined offering an elevated sense of quality, while renowned fashion designer, Vera Wang, brought a feeling of exclusivity to her range of wedding flowers.

A further interesting example of note is (RED) which exists entirely to be a co-branding partner. The Global Fund created the brand to generate sustainable income to fight AIDS in Africa and has partners including Dell, Hallmark, Starbucks, GAP and Nike; each able to create their own (RED) products that contribute to the fund’s income.

Co-branding advantages

  • Reaching another brand’s ready-made audience and rapid market penetration
  • Elevating or improving the perceived credibility of a brand by association with a more exclusive or technically proficient partner
  • Creation of entirely new joint ventures
  • Extending operational reach through broader alliances such as Oneworld 


As mentioned in the introduction, brands, like people, are known by the company they keep, so the main disadvantage of co-branding is the risk of being tied to partner brand that either has a negative development arise or becomes less of an asset and more of a liability.

An excellent example of this is the long-standing relationship between Shell and Lego which dated back to the 1960s. Lego ended the relationship after a high-profile campaign by Greenpeace, who accused Shell of exploiting the Arctic recklessly to drill for oil. Lego could not risk association with a partner that was becoming more toxic as environmental concerns grow to an all-time high.

Nike was also quick to sever its ties with Lance Armstrong and his LiveStrong foundation after he confessed to doping.

If you are considering co-branding or have any questions about this area of brand strategy, drop us a line.

Brand pandemic research running track

This is a marathon, not a sprint

New research* shows that most brands are yet to adopt a strategic approach to marketing more during the pandemic lockdown, just 7% are investing more in marketing, but double that figure think it’s too early even to know what their strategic response will be.

By far the most significant percentage of brands, some 50%, are making cuts in marketing intending to conserve finances enough to survive another day. 29% remain in a holding position of maintaining previous marketing spend.

These statistics paint a picture of brands, somewhat understandably, battling to survive with a short-term focus on holding on to cash or in a state of paralysis as to how to play it in the current situation — 10% of marketers believe their finance department would reject requests for marketing spend because it would be a waste of time and money.

It seems then that the approach of most brands is in some way to hope it blows over before their cash runs out and, hopefully, return to business something like usual.

Only 10% of consumers believe they will return to their usual pattern of behaviour once the lockdown eases.

Consumer research** shows the pandemic recovery is going to be more of a marathon than a sprint, however. That’s once the lockdown ends too and we still don’t have a timescale for that yet.

Only 10% of consumers believe they will return to their usual pattern of behaviour once the lockdown eases. A massive 77% of consumers say that they will be either a bit cautious or very cautious, and 13% intend to stay in some sort of lockdown situation. 28% of consumers also believe the experience will leave them with permanently changed shopping behaviour.

There’s an evident gulf between brand thinking and consumer thinking, in terms of the timescales this will play out at least.

The research indicates that customers are going to have to be coaxed back rather than flooding back uninvited as soon as the lockdown eases. When they do come back, they will also be coming back with reduced income.

If they are to survive or even thrive, brands need to find a way of bridging the gap and form a longer-term plan now to negotiate their current reality, the road to recovery is going to be a long one.

* Marketing Week and Econsultancy
** Retail Economics

Photo by Adi Goldstein on Unsplash

brand strategy hybrid brand architecture - coke

Brand strategy: hybrid brands

In this, the third post in our brand strategy series looking at brand architecture, we look at the hybrid brand architecture model.

The hybrid model aims to incorporate elements of both the branded house and house of brands models to give each brand maximum advantage, either through endorsement or independence.

Hybrid brand architecture is often the result of acquisitions, whereby the parent brand decides on a case-by-case basis what the most beneficial brand strategy is when it acquires each new brand — either absorb it into the parent brand, retain some element of the existing brand but endorse it with the parent brand or to leave it intact.

Examples of the hybrid brand architecture model include Coca-Cola, Volkswagen and Amazon.

Examples of the hybrid brand architecture model include Coca-Cola, Volkswagen and Amazon. Amazon, in particular, has a host of brands that range from Amazon Prime and Amazon Echo that are very clearly visually signposted as part of the brand to brands such as IMDb and Twitch that have remained mostly intact post-acquisition.

Facebook is also making a transition from a single-platform brand to a hybrid brand that is both the social media platform and the parent company that endorses acquired platforms such as Whatsapp and Instagram. The ‘two facebooks’ having different identities to signify which you are interacting with — either parent or platform.

Hybrid brand strategy advantages

The hybrid architecture approach can present the best of all worlds. The awareness and rapid market penetration that a known brand can lend to either a new offshoot or a smaller acquisition can be very beneficial. But it also allows the flexibility for stand-alone brands where this would be an advantage.

Equally, if a brand that is either neglected or has other difficulties gets brought under the wing of a trusted parent brand, it can help to negate the negative image of the brand that is acquired.

In the case of platforms or services such as Twitch, the ability to make the transition in ownership seamless by leaving the brand intact also helps to retain the brand’s users.


The additional costs and management time that the house of brands model generates can also apply to the hybrid model, together with some of the inflexibility and ‘risk by association’ of the branded house model.

The other significant disadvantage can be confusion, both from an external and an internal viewpoint. Customers and brand managers can just become lost in a morass of brands at various levels of association and disassociation with the parent brand, not all of which necessarily makes sense if the situation has arisen organically over time and goes without periodical review.

If you want to talk to us about your brand architecture, drop us a line.

Photo by Markus Lompa on Unsplash

brand strategy house of brands network

Brand strategy: house of brands

Continuing our brand strategy series of posts addressing brand architecture, we take a look at the house of brands model. The house of brands is the principle alternative to the branded house model.

The house of brands model has the parent brand in the background, sometimes almost to the point of being unknown, and focuses brand-building efforts on individual service or product brands. 

The visibility of the parent brand does vary within this as, strategically, it can sometimes be beneficial for it to be known; mainly as an endorsement of quality or heritage and sometimes it is more useful or relevant for it to take a back seat.

An example of a house of brands model is FMCG behemoth Unilever. The brands owned and operated by Unilever fall into various consumer goods categories and include house-hold name brands such as Walls, Persil, Hellmann’s and Ben & Jerry’s.

You can use Unilever-owned products several times a day in various categories and not be aware of the parent brand without scrutinising the packaging carefully.

House of brands brand strategy advantages

There are many advantages to the house of brands brand architecture model, the primary one being flexibility. Many FMCG goods brands favour it as it allows them to occupy more market share by having several brands in the same category. 

It also allows for the operation of brands with different positioning in the same category, such as a budget brand and a mid-market or high-end brand. Alternatively, similar products could focus on different attributes or market segments.

If one of the brands takes a turn for the worse, the fallout has a better chance of being contained within that one brand

Another significant benefit of the house of brands model is that they have some protection from each other in the case of adverse situations. If one of the brands takes a turn for the worse, the fallout has a better chance of being contained within that one brand.

Nestlé, for example, has attracted some broad and incredibly strong criticism (at the time of writing, Why Nestle is one of the most hated companies in the world is high on the first page of Google search results for the company’s name), yet Smarties and Quality Street feel distant from the furore and remain fondly regarded.


The House of brands brand strategy is resource-hungry. Each brand needs establishing in its own right and marketed more-or-less independently, which can be incredibly costly compared to the branded house model.

Related to this is also the risk of cannibalisation; launching and operating multiple brands in the same category can result in converting customers from an existing brand to your newly-launched brand. The overall market share of the parent brand, therefore, doesn’t increase, but it now has the additional liabilities of operating a new brand.

There is also just the sheer logistical workload of owning and operating multiple brands. If a company owns 400 product brands, there is some inevitability that they won’t all shine as brightly. Some will always get the lion’s share of attention and investment, which in turn becomes something of a self-fulfilling cycle as they continue to perform better.

While the limiting of potential negative overspill from one brand to another is an advantage, conversely it also restricts any possible positive association. The halo of one brand tends not to stretch around its stablemates.

If you want to talk to us about your brand architecture, drop us a line.

Photo by Alina Grubnyak on Unsplash

Brand strategy umbrella brand - Volvo

Brand strategy: the umbrella brand

When creating your brand strategy, an important aspect is brand architecture. There are several models that you can adopt and even hybrid models, so in our series of posts, we will look at each in turn.

It is worth mentioning that, particularly as businesses and brands grow in complexity and acquire other brands or launch new areas of activity, there exists an entire spectrum of hybrid models.

One widely used brand architecture model is the umbrella brand or branded house model. In essence, the umbrella brand or branded house uses an overarching brand as the main focal point, and the brand’s products or services are all contained within this.

Volvo is an example of an umbrella brand or branded house brand architecture model, as is Virgin. Whether you are ordering wine, booking a holiday or signing up for an intergalactic flight, you are in no doubt that you are dealing first and foremost with the Virgin brand and will see its familiar signature-style logo.

Umbrella brand strategy advantages

There are lots of advantages to the branded house architecture model, one of the main ones being sheer visibility. If you perform every interaction under one banner, then all efforts concentrate and support the one brand.

From a brand management viewpoint, it can be easier to manage a branded house. All areas of the brand share the same vision, the same identity (albeit with some specifics for sub-brands) and can seek to create the same or similar customer experience.

There are also ordinarily significant operational efficiencies to the branded house model.

There are also ordinarily significant operational efficiencies to the branded house model. Marketing efforts can often be shared, and public relations activities tend to benefit the whole ‘house’.

This approach can also give new areas of activity rapid market penetration. If the brand is well-known and already has a positive reputation in the marketplace, a new service or product will immediately benefit from being within the branded house, which is considerably easier than launching a new brand.


One of the most potentially severe disadvantages of this brand strategy is that any negative association bleeds into all areas of the branded house. A disaster for one service or product has consequences for its siblings too.

There is also the issue of dilution. If a brand stretches too far, both its credibility in the marketplace (especially if it’s a new entrant), and what it stood for in the first place can become lost.

Another disadvantage is inflexibility; the whole branded house tends to own the brand positioning, so it can be hard to launch a new product or service that shares the brand but seeks to hold a different position in the market. An example of this is Toyota when launching an upmarket challenger to the German business-class brands. It had to create the luxury Lexus brand to earn a share of the luxury market convincingly.

Similarly, the areas of activity the brand enters into have to make sense to the brand’s audiences. Can what the brand is known for successfully translate? The public can be fickle, and if that’s combined with a leftfield brand extension, it can spell disaster — though there are doubts over its veracity, the infamous Colgate Lasagne illustrates how jarring some brand extensions have the potential to be.

If you want to talk to us about your brand architecture, drop us a line.

Photo by Adam Cai on Unsplash

Brand identity - think twice

How to ruin your brand identity

You’ve worked hard to grow your brand from concept to something with tangible value; you don’t just have customers, you have fans. The long nights and weekends working are finally paying off!

Wrapped around it all is your brand identity, it’s the conduit between your brand and it’s public. Here’s how to completely undermine it:

Use your identity inconsistently

Initially, you got a fantastic identity designed for your brand. It lent it a real feel of quality and stood out in the marketplace like a beacon of Apple-esque chic.

You didn’t get any brand guidelines produced though, so every time it’s been used since you’ve just supplied the last piece of collateral as a reference. 

It now looks a bit like you’ve paid someone to bootleg your brand.

For some reason, your brand doesn’t look quite as refined as it used to. Bit by bit, it seems to have become removed from the original brand identity. It now looks a bit like you’ve paid someone to bootleg your brand.

Oh well, perhaps time for a branding refresh.

Change your brand identity regularly

Day in, day out you have to look at your brand identity, and you’re sure it’s starting to look a bit dated or has lost its sparkle, or maybe you’re just bored with it.

Despite the fact it’s only 18-months since your last rebrand, it must be time to rebrand again; your customers will be just excited as you by your new look. Perhaps you’ll even change your name this time. Agile!

One of your competitors has rebranded, and their new identity looks impressive, so do something like theirs.

Stretch it beyond relevance

Your quest for global domination means sub-brands and brand extensions a-plenty.

Just because you’re a recruiter, it doesn’t mean you can’t launch a range of athleisure wear or a restaurant chain. Your reputation for filling vacant IT positions will translate easily across countless products and services.

Make sure they all carry the same brand name too, so when one brand extension goes awry, it reflects poorly on them all.

Jump on the bandwagon

You want your brand out there, and a structured social responsibility programme is too restrictive. Instead, hitch your brand to every cause, movement, issue or sponsorship opportunity that comes along, big or small.

Don’t appoint one person or team to manage it

Brand management is a company-wide responsibility, so get everyone to use, deploy and manage your brand identity without anyone overseeing it or controlling quality.


By following these easy steps, you’ll achieve maximum cost and effort for minimum return. You’ll also be sure to confuse anyone that comes into contact with your brand, and maybe even yourself.

If you want to avoid these pitfalls, drop us a line and let’s talk about your brand.

Photo by explorenation # on Unsplash

London 2012 cyclists

A love letter to London 2012

Every piece of identity design to gain significant exposure leads to a familiar pattern of behaviour; some likes, some dislikes, some designers pointing out aesthetic flaws or where the project went wrong, a few (usually awful) attempts at alternatives.

This eruption is all usually spewed forth without the context of the original brief, the client’s input, what the goal was or any other of the countless factors that influence the outcome of a design.

One of the most extreme examples of this was the reaction to the London 2012 Olympic Games identity. It generated a reaction so strong it became a heated discussion far outside of the design industry. People felt so violently opposed to it that a petition to redesign it was quickly set up and gathered tens of thousands of signatures (this was before petitioning everything became a default reaction).

A raft of proposed alternatives surfaced, all pretty appalling, but most importantly, they almost all missed a key objective; create an identity that could be owned by the nation, not just London.

Every depiction of the London Eye, Houses of Parliament or Thames woven into the Olympic Rings missed the point — Britain is tiny, it needed everyone to support the Olympics; not just the capital.

The logo’s form was so wildly unconventional and dynamic that it could be filled with images, patterns and colours in almost any combination and remain just as recognisable.

The shape assisted widespread ownership by sponsors and suppliers up and down the country; they could create their own unique version of it — despite possibly disliking it, they still wanted the prestige of being a supplier or partner to the Olympics.

It was edgy, unexpected and risky — it could appeal to a young audience which was critical

Instead of the usual soft shapes and pleasant but forgettable colours, the identity was all diagonal lines, sharp corners and an eye-popping palette. It was edgy, unexpected and risky — it could appeal to a young audience which was critical as increasing youth participation in sport was a huge part of the intended legacy of the games and its infrastructure.

Overall the approach taken to create the identity and the final result was something befitting of a nation responsible for producing some of the world’s greatest creative and maverick minds.

The London 2012 logo is also likely to be the only Olympic logo you can recall without seeing it, which is an incredibly hard thing to achieve.

If more design work is approached in this way and more risks are taken, perhaps more brands would avoid one of the worst but most common of all design outcomes — nice, but forgettable.

Photo by Simon Connellan on Unsplash

Open sign

COVID-19 response statement

As the situation surrounding the spread of C-19 (Coronavirus) is changing rapidly, we want to make sure we are supporting our staff, clients’ and suppliers’ health and wellbeing first and foremost.

We will also now be conducting all meetings remotely where possible or rescheduling them if this is not practical or if time allows.

We are a primarily digital business and can move to home-based working with minimal disruption until the advice about self-isolation and being in larger groups of people changes. We believe this is the most responsible course of action for us based on current advice.

We will also now be conducting all meetings remotely where possible or rescheduling them if this is not practical or if time allows.

If you have a mobile number already for the person you wish to contact, please use this as the primary number to speak to someone. You can also contact us via the usual means; email, Slack, Skype or Google Hangout.

The business continuity plan for our hosting services is ISO 22301 Business Continuity accredited and will ensure they remain uninterrupted. It includes isolation for staff that have roles that dictate on-site working (such as data centre engineers) and built-in redundancy; this negates the risk of transfer from offices to data centres or vice versa.

As always, if you have any concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

We wish you good health and a swift return to business as usual.

Nick Whyatt

Photo by Alex Holyoake on Unsplash

The Shard, London

POP wins Mitie PLC projects

POP has secured another blue-chip client already in 2020, Mitie PLC. The work includes planning, website design and development.

Headquartered in The Shard, Mitie employs around 50,000 people.

Headquartered in The Shard, Mitie is the UK’s leading facilities management and professional services company, employing around 50,000 people and serving clients such as the Bank Of England, Sky, Facebook and Eurostar. Services delivered range from security and healthcare to document management, assurance and risk management.

POP is now in its 12th year of business and has worked with clients of all sizes and sectors, from start-ups to some of the country’s most recognisable brands.

Photo by Valentin B. Kremer on Unsplash

Armstrong digital marketing win

POP wins Armstrong Account

POP has been successful in winning the Armstrong Ceiling Solutions pan-European digital marketing account.

The EMEA and Pacific Rim business has recently been acquired by Knauf in $330m sale, as Armstrong World Industries pursues an Americas-only strategy.

POP will be working alongside Armstrong to deliver digital marketing reporting tools as well as the creation and ongoing management of the company’s organic and paid digital marketing strategy and activity.

Armstrong has a 150-year history that has seen it grow into Europe’s leading manufacturer of mineral fibre ceiling systems; designing and making products specified in all environments from schools and workplaces to hotels and hospitals.